STORIES: Thompson, Harwell C.
Mail Service Began:
||September 10, 1920
Mail Service Ended:
||September 7, 1923
||College Park, Maryland
||October 16, 1920 –
||February 16, 1921 - Chicago
Harwell C. Thompson was in his third year as
an airmail pilot when, on September 7, 1923, he left Cleveland,
Ohio in a de Havilland airplane at 8:07 a.m. for Chicago.
At about 9:30 a.m., a farmer near Coltin, Ohio, saw Thompson
heading west at a low altitude and heard the engine making very loud noises. The airplane began a wide turn around a farmhouse,
gliding down with engine throttle back, about to land when
some cattle shifted into its path. As the farmer described it, "The engine exploded to life, then went silent.
The airplane dropped like a rock, nose first, left wing low,
and hit the ground at a 120º angle." Thompson's
seat belt broke loose at its fitting, and he was thrown into
the inner-bay stagger wires of the left wing.
When the engine was inspected, mechanics saw
teeth missing from each of the drive gears. Thompson's
attempt to apply power to clear the cattle had stripped six
teeth from generator gear, stopping the engine cold.